Maybe it was the monitors and he couldn't hear himself, maybe it was excitement at rocking his tracks to an adoring packed crowd at the Bluebird, maybe he was trying to scourge our memory of the awful performance by Tommy Hilfiger's son that had just taken place -- who knows? Whatever it was, last night at the Bluebird, Dom Kennedy came out screeching his lyrics at too high a volume before settling in for almost an hour on stage. Everybody wants to be a rap star, and of all the folks on the bill, it ain't hard to tell who's got it, and who doesn't.
There was not a person in the crowd who didn't know Dom Kennedy's music. The audience exuberantly shouted the lyrics to "Menace to Society," sans Freddie Gibbs, and "O.P.M," an acronym for "Other People's Money," which set the place on fire right out of the gate. The West Coast native was comfortable on stage throughout, particularly on cuts like "Watermelon Sundae" and his many collaborations with Polyester (the two went off on "She Go"), and the energy was high.
The MC's banter felt a little forced at times, especially when he encouraged the already stoned out of their minds audience to "smoke some more." The crowd was really feeling his performance and his execution already, so even as his set approached 45 minutes, they were with him all the way. He packed the hits into as much time as he had, killing tracks like "Grind'N," "Of All Time," "It Was Beautiful," along with a slew of obscure Dom Kennedy songs only real fans would know the words to back to back.
Spitting his verses to no beat was actually a pretty nice touch, as it highlighted and emphasized the rapper's clever punch lines and super swagged out lyrics. The ode to his hometown, "A Leimert Park Song," briefly turned Denver into L.A. Dom's DJ backed him up lovely with his West Coast beats and heavy bass-driven sounds. Without question, Kennedy's headlining performance was the highlight of the evening. The people most definitely enjoyed it, especially in comparison to what they had to endure before he took the stage.
Rich Hil could have worn a pinwheel attached to his backwards snap back and still couldn't have looked more corny. In a voice that was high and whiny, he performed songs about getting bitches, smoking trees, sipping lean and living in the 'hood. He was exhaustively off beat with his rhythms and uncomfortably oblivious to how bad his set was going. As he yelled "support your local drug dealer," T-shirts and other merchandise was handed out emblazoned with the letters, SYLDD.
Although the beats were completely off the chain, the rapping was about as bad as you can imagine. And once the news that he was Tommy Hilfiger's son swept through the room, people could be seen laughing with relief that this wasn't a "real rapper" from the slums of Philly, as he said.
Earlier in the evening, Quiz, who looks a lot like sunkenstate (we're pretty sure it was sunkenstate, in fact) gave a solid performance, although his set time was really too long. His raps were intricate but his beats not enough to carry his lackadaisical performance style. He walked back and forth on the stage rapping his lyrics and giving a performance, almost to himself. About twenty minutes in, he lost the early crowd a bit but overall he worked with what he had.
Personal Bias: I'm indifferent to Dom Kennedy's music. He can rap and the beats are tight. You won't find him on my iPod, though.
Random Detail: The Bluebird was packed with a bunch of new faces! Nice for an underground rap show on a Wednesday
By The Way: Rich Hill is seriously the worst rapper alive. Dude... what the hell?!
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